Whether it’s a headache, toothache, or sprained ankle, at one point or another, we’ve all experienced the pain associated with inflammation. Over-the-counter remedies like ibuprofen are great at reducing inflammatory pain, but they come with a list of side effects and potential consequences of long-term use. If you’re curious about alternatives to these drugs to help reduce pain and control inflammation, cannabis might be the choice for you.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is our body’s way of naturally responding to illness and injury. It helps alert our body that something is wrong and goes to work to battle infections.
But sometimes, our body reacts to inflammation when we aren’t experiencing trauma and attacks its own immune system causing swelling, pain, and joint stiffness. Autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease fall into this category. And what’s worse is that chronic inflammation has been linked to things like obesity, heart diseases, and other long term damage.
While anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs work to block inflammation sources, their pain-relieving ability is limited and can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. This has motivated scientists and patients alike to look for alternative ways to reduce inflammation, and they are finding success with cannabis.
Cannabis and Inflammation
While cannabis has been used for thousands of years as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, science is only just beginning to reveal how compounds in cannabis work to fight inflammation and control pain. And new research suggests that cannabis can work as a safe substitute for anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis have been observed in many different inflammatory conditions, from arthritis to acne. One study showed that cannabis reduced both intestinal permeability and inflammation, suggesting that cannabis may provide relief for people with inflammatory bowel disease. Another clinical trial published in the European Journal of Pain showed that cannabis skin patches could reduce pain and inflammation related to arthritis.
How Does Cannabis Reduce Inflammation?
Cannabis contains hundreds of compounds called cannabinoids, which work to reduce inflammation by binding to cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body to bring balance to our bodily system. There have also been several studies that show that cannabis works to down-regulate cytokine production. Cytokines are proteins that are secreted by the immune cell to promote inflammation.
Another way cannabis acts on inflammation is through its ability to inhibit cyclo-oxygenase enzymes. Cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2 enzyme activity, the same way that anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen do.
Cannabis also has the powerful ability to suppress the immune response. Studies in mice have shown that THC can trigger cell death in specific white blood cells, helping reduce damaging immune activity. This immunosuppression can ease pain and chronic inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks healthy tissue by mistake.
Is Cannabis Right For Me?
Deciding to use cannabis as an alternative to other drugs to help manage inflammatory pain is a personal choice. But if you suffer from a condition that causes chronic pain and inflammation, cannabis is a treatment option worth considering. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that can bring much-needed relief without the side effects of more traditional drugs.
If you’d like more information on cannabis treatments or about how to become a cannabis patient, we’d love to help. Give us a call or send us an email anytime, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.